Monday, 24 September 2012

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) Renewal - Again!

On the 6th September the Disability & Carers Service, part of the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), sent me a letter and a renewal claim form. Despite the UK's notoriously inefficient postal system, Royal Mail somehow succeeded in delivering the missive on 10th September. Actually 'form' is an understatement: it is a thirty-five page booklet. Thus far I have managed to complete the first twelve pages at a rate of what is averaging out at two hours per page. At the rate I am going I shall definitely overshoot the required return date of 4th October. I have actually been given less than a month to complete it.

[Image description: page one of the mentioned form, DLA80; Crown ©]

Unfortunately I have multi-morbidities with concomitant co-morbidities which include several fluctuating conditions. This means I cannot answer yes/no to most things, but rather have to explain the range of symptoms, etc. Furthermore, on many days I cannot concentrate long enough to do anything useful on the form. I calculate at the current rate of progress, it is likely to take me up to two more months to fully complete, as I have already begun to enter my annual winter malaise. Yikes!

Every time I complete one of these renewal claims, I have requested that the form(s) be sent out much earlier, due to my inability to manage to fit into their tight time-frames. Every time I am ignored. This adds to my anxiety, puts me under unneeded additional stress and thus pejorates my health and well-being. This is direct discrimination and in breach of disability legislation, which expects service-providers, etc. to make reasonable adjustments.

Furthermore, I cannot write. And there is no carer to do it for me. So all my responses have to be typed. In this day and age one might have expected that the form could have been completed on-line or, at the very least, the DWP could have sent an electronic pro forma via email. (See also my rant on Govt. passport forms, disabled-friendly official forms.)

The only thing left to do is write a letter to the DWP to apprise them of the delay. Thankfully, I might just cut & paste and emend this article. But tomorrow, as I need my siesta now. ZZZZZzzzzzzz…

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Åland Islands

My blog has just notched up its first visit from someone on the Åland Islands. Frankly, I have to admit, I have never heard of them; so had to look them up:Åland_Islands. They are situated between Finland and Sweden.

[Image description: flag of Åland Islands]

[Image description: map of Åland Islands
reproduced with permission (q.v.)]

Thanks for visiting, whoever you were. And how exciting to discover parts of Europe one knew nothing about!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Penis problems 2: Crooked Cocks, Curved Cocks

[WARNING: at the bottom of this article is a photograph of a deformed penis.]

Flaccid, most men’s penes (penises) lean slightly to left - the majority - or to the right; very few hang down perfectly straight. However, whatever position is taken, it is completely normal.

Erect, many men’s penes have a slight lean, many appear straight. These states are completely normal. If a penis has always had some slight bend it is considered benign and is termed ‘congenital curvature’. However, even in these circumstances, if one experiences pain in the penis during intercourse, one should seek medical advice.

Kinks or distinct curvature to the left, right, upwards or downwards, that develop later in life, especially if occurring over a short period of time (though long periods are not unknown), may indicate a problem whether or not any trauma has been incurred by the member. This is the point where one should consult one’s GP, who can make a referral to a urologist if appropriate.

I should point out that non-violent, non-rough masturbation is not likely to cause any kind of curvature. The notion of micro-trauma, as I understand it, is considered a myth. [I shall deal with masturbation in general in a later article.]

The most likely problem is known as Peyronie’s disease, sometimes called ‘bent nail disease’ because of the inability to penetrate, and per the BBC’s article (q.v.) affects around one percent of men, Although Wikipedia suggests “up to 10%” and a recent TIME article (q.v.) suggests “About 5% of men...”. According to the Wikipedia entry (q.v.):

“Without treatment, about 12-13% of patients will spontaneously improve over time, 40-50% will get worse and the rest will be relatively stable”.

Given those stats, one can readily see that seeking expert help and quickly is definitely to one’s benefit. There are plenty of treatments and therapies available, but cases whilst alleviated cannot necessarily be fully cured. Surgery is only considered appropriate where the crookedness prevents sexual intercourse and is causing distress.


For a good web-site which goes into more depth and detail I should also recommend

Whilst I am perfectly happy to respond to comments, I am not medically trained and therefore cannot give individual advice. Please consult a doctor; don’t suffer in silence! %)

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Interaction with a British Member of Parliament

[Image description: Wikipedia photo of Tim Farron; reproduced on the understanding that the copyright owner does not necessarily endorse my views.]

On August 15th 2012 I was involved in a discussion on Twitter between @blindmike47 and @timfarron ( The latter is a Liberal Democrat MP and also President of said party. From what I have seen and heard of him in the Media, an honourable chap. After some discussion, he asked Mike and myself to email him. So I took him up on his offer and emailed the following letter:

Dear Tim (hope that's not too informal!),

Many thanks for engaging with Mike and myself on Twitter and allowing us to contact you. During the last local election coverage I enjoyed your contributions on BBC.

I have never been desperately political and have never belonged to a political party (as I do not agree with whipping). However, I do admit to having distributed leaflets on behalf of LibDems in the past. I have always attempted to persuade folks to vote, having learned about how we plebs became enfranchised in Politics lessons at secondary school. The last election was the first time I considered not voting (having only ever missed one - European - election after a bout of hospitalisation). I have never trusted Mr. Clegg. Indeed when he first took over as leader, I switched my vote to the local [Green] candidate. My instinctive distrust of him seems to have been corroborated by his in/actions in government.

This past few years I have become politically active like never before. I am petrified, as are many other disabled folk, that we are heading towards some kind of Nazi-type solution for the chronically sick & disabled. I have been on my first ever political demonstration and - health willing - should be attending another in a couple of weeks or so.

The media, even C4 news on occasion, have portrayed a very slanted view of the disabled and other benefit recipients. The BBC is more biased than I have ever known it: for the first time in my life I do not trust it. I suppose because Twitter, facebook, etc. now bring me the news from around the globe, not just UK, of issues ignored by mainstream Media. Being a polyglot I am also able to see similar issues in other countries. This only re-inforces my (and others') sense of anomie, neo-liberal oligarchies and all-pervading sense of despair. Hundreds have committed suicide under this coalition because of their policies, thousands more have attempted or considered suicide.

The only LibDem voice I have consistently heard decrying the situation is George [W] Potter. And to me at least, and many disabled folk, their relatives, friends, neighbours & carers, this is just not good enough. We need to hear a distinctive LibDem voice, arguing vociferously for social justice: not simply for the chronically sick & disabled, but for the unemployed, for young folk (who get a terribly raw deal in British society) etc. If the LibDems are not the voice of the 'disenfranchised', then someone else will be. Or we will descend into 'apathy' and leave the way open to an unchallenged plutocracy.



Well, despite a couple of reminders to Tim via Twitter, I only received a response yesterday, 10th September. Here it is:

Dear Colin,

Thank you very much for your email and I apologise for the delay in responding to you. Unfortunately given economic crisis and the extreme financial constraints in which we are currently operating, decision have been made surrounding changes to welfare benefits that no Lib Dem would make if any other viable alternative were an option. I completely agree with you that the Liberal Democrats need to be the voice of the vulnerable and disenfranchised and we are fighting tooth and nail in Government to ensure the best deal possible for those groups. However our choices have been incredibly limited.

Thank you again for emailing and I hope I can assure you that the Lib Dems are trying to do the best we can for the disabled and vulnerable.

Best wishes,

Make up your own minds whether or not he answered my points.

However, given how much effort it takes for me to write, I do not think I shall waste my time responding. That probably gives you an idea of my thoughts.

It seems quite odd to me that someone would solicit comments and opinions in order to continue a discussion and then so completely close it down. I am left feeling I wasted my time and energy. And furthermore, did Tim simply ask to continue the discussion away from Twitter so he made himself appear to be interested in disabled folks' views whilst in reality not really giving a hoot? Or to remove a hot topic from his public Twitterfeed? His feeble response belies any real engagement.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Penis problems - new series forthcoming

[Image description: a sharply curved banana and two kiwi fruits assembled to resemble male genitalia.]

In preparation,
the first in a series
of potential issues or problems
relating to man's favourite member!